ShareThis Page

211 hot line popular in Westmoreland, local zip code areas

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The PA 211 Southwest hot line had a surge in calls in January after taking over a referral line formerly run by Westmoreland County.

The hot line processed 560 calls from Westmoreland County residents last month. That's an increase of 440 calls since December, when county officials transferred their information- and referral-service lines to the 211 network operated by the United Way of Allegheny County.

The boost in calls necessitated the hiring of a sixth person to work in the 24-hour call center, and there's a possibility that another two could be hired soon, said Julie DeSeyn, director of PA 211 Southwest. Indiana County is projected this month to become the eighth county in the network, with three more scheduled to be linked in by the end of the year, she said.

Information about food pantries and assistance for rent and utility payments were among Westmoreland callers' biggest needs in 2012, but, DeSeyn said, the hot line connects people with a variety of social-service needs unrelated to income levels.

The hot line rolled out a new website — — last week to enable users to search a database of more than 5,000 human service programs.

“There are a lot of across-the-board reasons people call 211,” DeSeyn said. “We want people to be able to find the help that they really need.”

In 2012, the first full-year 211 was available in Westmoreland County, the Irwin 15642 and Jeannette 15644 ZIP codes were among the five highest-ranked ZIP codes for call volume.

One hundred residents in the Irwin ZIP code called in, while 66 called from the Jeannette ZIP code.

When someone calls for help, the resource specialist taking the call often finds there are several needs for which they can offer a referral, said Dana Bauer, vice president of community investments at the United Way of Westmoreland County.

Hot line officials said they think that part of the increase in call volume in January was attributable to people who wanted to schedule appointments for volunteer income-tax assistance. The United Way recently mailed 45,000 postcards to households making between $15,000 and $49,000, Bauer said.

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8671 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.